The premises that held the court were not much to write home about. Housed in a faded, green, single-storey building in Eshowe, it was hard to imagine that life and death dramas played out within those walls.
It had been many months of waiting. On the morning of the first day of the trial, Roderick appeared before Judge Riebeek.
Riebeek turned to the court orderly, or registrar, and asked him to read the charges.
“Madelaine Roderick was murdered using a combination of weapons. The wood, which is Exhibit A; a pipe, which is Exhibit B; and a bracelet which is Exhibit C. There’s also a photograph of the word ‘XMAS’ written by the victim, which is Exhibit D.” He pointed out the specific items.
The registrar declared to Roderick: “Please take the oath. Do you believe in God?”
Roderick’s shoulders dropped, but he reluctantly obliged.
“Yes I do.”
“Is your oath binding on your conscience?”
“Yes.” He trembled and hoped that no one noticed. That’s the first lie, Roderick thought.
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? If so, say: ‘So help me God.’”
“I do, so help me God.” That was another lie right there.
Mr Olivier, the defence counsel for the accused, Roderick, rose. “I’ll prove the defendant is not guilty, your worship.”
Olivier started: “Mr Ndlovu, as we all know, was at the murder scene and it was he that committed this heinous act.”
Judge Riebeek immediately interjected: “Mr Christmas Ndlovu has entered a plea of not guilty, and he’s not here because he is currently not on trial.”
Olivier acknowledged the judge, and went on: “James Roderick was certainly in the home of the victim. He was in an inebriated state, having consumed half a bottle of brandy and an equal measure of tequila.”
“But, my client was the victim of circumstance. Sure, he injured his leg and bled, leaving blood on the bracelet.” He referred to Exhibit C, the bracelet, “But he didn’t murder Madelaine.”
“He was there, for sure. I don’t deny that.”
Roderick got up and faced the judge. He began by saying: “Excuse me, there’s something I need to say.”
Roderick saw that the judge was not amused by the interruption and there was an immediate twitter in the court room.
“Order in the court,” Judge Riebeek commanded. He stared James Roderick straight in the eyes.
Roderick crossed his legs. He thought that he was close to shitting himself.
“Excuse me, your worship, but I need to go to the toilet, please. Your worship.” He felt intimidated by the judge.
Again, Roderick had an uncomfortable feeling. He was holding back the faeces.
The defence counsel, Olivier looked at Judge Riebeek and said: “My client has an uncomfortable problem. Could you please excuse him to go to the toilet, your worship?”
The judge looked very displeased. He dismissed Roderick and then Roderick left the court feeling very uncomfortable because he couldn’t hold on any longer. Rather shitty, Roderick thought wryly.
Roderick heard the court standing as the judge strode out of the court room.